Archive for Fassbinder

Quote of the Day #3

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by dcairns

“Their eyes met in Rome. On a street in Rome — the Via Piemonte. He was coming down it, coming along toward her, when she first saw him. She didn’t know it but he was also coming into her life, into her destiny — bringing what was meant to be.

Every life is a mystery. And every story of every life is a mystery. But it is not what happens that is the mystery. It is whether it has to happen no matter what, whether it is ordered and ordained, fixed and fated, or whether it can be missed, avoided, circumvented, passed by; that is the mystery.

If she had not come along the Via Piemonte that day, would it still have happened? Therein lies the real mystery. And no one ever knows, and no one ever will.”

From For the Rest of Her Life, by Cornell Woolrich, filmed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder as MARTHA.

This sequence is treated in an extraordinary manner by Fassbinder in his TV adaptation of one of Woolrich’s last stories (in which the heroine’s ultimate fate somewhat reflects Woolrich’s own.

As seen in the picture at top, we begin looking past Martha as she spots the man (PEEPING TOM’s Karlheinz Boehm). Following her as she crosses the square, we — well, at this point it becomes complicated.

The actors pause opposite each other and seem to circle each other, but the camera also circles them…

Having started on Martha, we now follow the mysterious stranger as he walks away…

In the DVD extras on Volume 1 of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder collection, Boehm calls this one of the greatest shots of all time, and I think I have to agree. He also talks about how hard it was to perform the shot unself-consciously — I think the actors have to step over the tracks, and they also have to remain impassive as the camera tracks right across their eyelines. Seeing this movie explains all those circling tracks in Scorsese’s COLOR OF MONEY, also shot by Michael Ballhaus.

I don’t think the actors do quite manage to avoid self-consciousness, but that doesn’t bother me at all. The shot is so strange and disorientating that one assumes it’s meant to convey something of the mystery Woolrich writes about — it’s like the world just executed a spin around the characters, and they each feel the importance of this inexplicable moment.


Frankenstein Goes To Hollywood

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on July 19, 2008 by dcairns

Can’t seem to stop myself thinking up alternative Frankenstein plots now. I tried the Frankenstein in Vegas variant, TONY POLAR MEETS FRANKENSTEIN (AKA INTO THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF THE DOLLS) and the Frankenstein in London one, FRANKENSTEIN HAS RISEN FROM BELGRAVIA, as well as being tickled by Douglas Noble’s suggestion of Frankenstein in Edinburgh, rubbing cadavers with Burke and Hare (after Burke is hanged, he’s horrified to wake up with his head grafted onto the body of a West Highland Terrier called Bobbie).

Frankenstein in the Future scenarios are always tempting. Since Hammer revived Dracula in A.D. 1972, and since the Baron was experimenting with freezing himself in CREATED WOMAN, why not have him come down with an incurable infection, put himself on ice, and be revived in a later age when simple antibiotics can knock his illness on the head?

FRANKENSTEIN, HITLER’S MADMAN emerges as one possibility. The quest to create the Superman has never seemed so… messy. Will the Baron save Hitler’s brain? I think he will. But horror fantasy around Third Reich themes has a tendency to get repulsively tasteless, so I shove this idea to one side.

What if the Baron revived in the ’70s, same as Dracula? But Frankenstein is on the continent, in the midst of the New German Cinema, so we get THE BITTER TEARS OF VICTOR VON FRANKENSTEIN (Fassbinder’s TV drama Pioneers in Ingolstadt also seems pertinent here). Fassbinder himself would make a great hunchbacked assistant.

I am totally up for further suggestions.

Orson Prepares For His Porno Career

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on December 27, 2007 by dcairns

Citizen C**k

Note the sign in the background, beneath the Shanghai Low marquee.

Actually, on a slightly less stupid note, there are a few of these type shots in THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, documentary-style images obviously snatched quickly on the streets of Chinatown. Quite unusual, and at variance with the shooting style elsewhere, but nice. A little sneak preview of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND’s approach.

Another stray weirdness: both films feature minor characters called Fassbinder.